Anika Pruthi

Anika Pruthi’s decision to enter the medical field was deeply influenced by a letter in a bright red envelope.

When she was 11 years old, Pruthi received this letter from her piano teacher. Though the handwritten words were a simple happy birthday wish, Pruthi was struck by the effort her teacher went through to create a meaningful connection.

This effort stuck with Pruthi, a 2019 Most Valuable Student scholar and 2023 Gunther and Lee Weigel Medical School Scholarship recipient, when she saw the effect the pandemic had on students at her college, the College of New Jersey. Pruthi started an anonymous, handwritten letter exchange to create a safe space for students to discuss their mental health and express their hopes and fears. It was a tremendous success.

“I found myself empowered as I shared and received such personal letters full of reflection and fresh perspectives,” says Pruthi. “It wasn’t just the content, but the emotional commitment to face a blank page, that left me in awe. Through the letter exchange, I witnessed the power of heartfelt gestures and personal connections in a fast-paced and technology-driven world, and was reminded of the importance of slowing down, listening intently, and offering supportive check-ins to those around me.”

Though Pruthi’s days of receiving letters from her piano teacher and running the letter writing exchange are over, the values she learned along the way will stick with her as she begins medical school at Cooper Medical School of Rowan University.

“As I embark on my journey to become a physician, I strive to bring the sincerity and warmth that comes with letter writing to everything I do,” says Pruthi. “Whether through words, letters, gestures, or simply being present, I will make others feel special and loved, creating a more compassionate and empathetic healthcare system.”

Just as she recognizes the importance of bringing these values into her future career, Pruthi also recognizes the importance the Elks have had on her life and her community.

“As a grateful recipient of the 2019 MVS scholarship, I consider myself incredibly privileged to be a part of the Elks family. This community has provided me with more than just financial support; it has become a source of inspiration and a catalyst for meaningful change,” says Pruthi. “Within the Elks family, service goes beyond recognition of needs; it is a collective effort to create lasting change, address social issues, support those in need, and foster compassion.”

Pruthi created lasting change with the Elks family in 2021 when she, in partnership with Piscataway, N.J., Lodge No. 2414, used a Cornerstone Grant to initiate the Choose-A-Book Library Wish List Program at her local library. The program allowed community members to submit suggestions for materials they wanted to see at the library, including books, audiobooks, DVDs and CDs.

“The response from the community was overwhelming, as residents eagerly visited the library to learn more about the initiative and receive updates on their requests,” says Pruthi. “By equipping our public libraries with high-quality resources, we have the power to meet the diverse needs of patrons and promote social equity.”

Additionally, Pruthi served as an MVS judge for the Piscataway Lodge, where she evaluated and selected applications. She did so well at the Lodge level that she was brought back to serve as a judge at the state level.

Though Pruthi has already done so much with the help of the Elks family, she recognizes that there is still so much to learn and accomplish.

“As the eldest daughter of two immigrant parents and the first in my family to attend medical school, I am hoping to meet and learn from other incredible professionals in the Elks family, while uplifting others who share similar challenges in their journey,” says Pruthi. “With this scholarship, I can confidently say that I will make my Elks family proud as I continue to wholeheartedly dedicate myself to service, learning, and making a positive impact on the lives of others.”

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